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Richard Blanco's Inaugural Poem: Full Text

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Poet Richard Blanco speaks during the presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States.

    One Today


    One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
    peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
    of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
    across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
    One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
    told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

    My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
    each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
    pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
    fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
    begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper-
    bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
    on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives-
    to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
    for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

    All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
    the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
    equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
    the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming,
    or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain
    the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
    today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
    breathing color into stained glass windows,
    life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
    onto the steps of our museums and park benches
    as mothers watch children slide into the day.

    One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
    of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
    and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
    in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
    digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
    as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane
    so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

    The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
    mingled by one wind-our breath. Breathe. Hear it
    through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,
    buses launching down avenues, the symphony
    of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
    the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

    Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
    or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
    for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
    buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
    in the language my mother taught me-in every language
    spoken into one wind carrying our lives
    without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

    One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
    their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
    their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
    weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
    for the boss on time, stitching another wound
    or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
    or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
    jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

    One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
    tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
    of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
    that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
    who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
    who couldn't give what you wanted.

    We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
    of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always-home,
    always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
    like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
    and every window, of one country-all of us-
    facing the stars
    hope-a new constellation
    waiting for us to map it,
    waiting for us to name it-together

     

    Inauguration 2013

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